The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced today that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has appointed RuthAnne Visnauskas to serve as the next Commissioner of the agency. Ms. Visnauskas, currently HPD Deputy Commissioner for Development, will replace current HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua who is departing to take the position of President of RHR Funding LLC, part of The Richman Group of Companies’ mortgage lending business.
“Mat has done an exceptional job at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where he has kept us on track to deliver 165,000 affordable housing units by the end of the next fiscal year,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Mat’s knowledge and leadership were invaluable to carrying out this ambitious plan. I am grateful for his service to our city and wish him well in his future career. I trust RuthAnne to work as hard as she possibly can to keep this work going and accomplish all we can during the remaining months.”
“During Mathew's time as commissioner he delivered on Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan by exceeding HPD's annual targets and financing nearly 47,000 units of affordable housing,” said Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel. “We also owe Mathew a debt of thanks for his tireless work following Hurricane Sandy to shelter those who were displaced and to put programs in place that will rebuild the homes that were lost. I wish him continued success as he moves on to the private sector. I am pleased that RuthAnne Visnauskas will be bringing her considerable experience as she takes on the leadership at HPD as we continue to implement the Mayor’s affordable housing agenda.”
“I am grateful to the Mayor for putting his trust in me,” said Ms. Visnauskas “and I am thrilled to take on this challenge. In the nearly eight years since I came to HPD, we have experienced a national housing boom, weathered a recession and are moving into a recovery. Through it all our commissioners and staff positioned the agency to exceed expectations and to better serve those most in need. To be able to maintain that track record, serve the people of New York, and finish the Administration’s housing plan is an honor and an exceptional opportunity. I thank Mathew Wambua for his leadership and guidance over the past two years.”
“I thank the Mayor for his leadership in creating such an ambitious, comprehensive housing agenda and, and for providing me the opportunity to lead this great agency. It has been an honor to work with some of the most dedicated and compassionate public servants in the business,” said HPD Commissioner Wambua. “The knowledge that the work we do represents an investment in the future of New Yorkers and their families is why we are so passionate about our mission at HPD. RuthAnne is a great choice for this job. She has played an integral role in shaping some of the largest and most complex projects undertaken during this Administration. I know her experience will serve her well and have no doubt that she will be successful in guiding the agency through this period of transition and in the months to come.”
RuthAnne Visnauskas is currently the HPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Development where she is responsible for overseeing the annual housing production goals that are part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP) to finance the creation and preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the end of fiscal year 2014. She will take the helm at HPD in early September.
Ms. Visnauskas began working at HPD in 2006, initially serving as Executive Director of Large Scale Planning before being promoted in 2008 to Assistant Commissioner for New Construction Finance where she led several agency initiatives including programs to develop middle-income housing. Prior to her appointment as Deputy Commissioner she served as Associate Commissioner for Preservation with a focus on creating financing strategies and programs to aid in the acquisition and rehabilitation of distressed multifamily properties throughout the City.
Since his appointment as HPD Commissioner in March 2011, Mathew M. Wambua has implemented a number of key agency and Administration initiatives while steering the largest municipal affordable housing finance and housing code enforcement agency in the nation. Overall, during his tenure, Mr. Wambua oversaw transactions that exceeded the agency’s annual production targets despite the unfavorable fiscal and housing climate, financing approximately 47,000 housing units and spurring a $6 billion investment in the City’s neighborhoods.
Among the priorities championed by Mr. Wambua was the partnership between City and State agencies to double the City’s production of supportive housing units from approximately 500 units to nearly 1,000 units annually to help meet the needs of New York’s most vulnerable citizens; a goal HPD achieved in Fiscal Year 2013. He also pressed for the first significant reform of the J-51 program since the 1990s.The amendments which were authorized this year allow HPD to better target this incentive program to the preservation of the City’s rental and affordable homeownership housing stock while also enabling building owners to maintain rents affordable to low- and moderate-income households.
HPD undertook a number of signature affordable housing developments under Mr. Wambua’s watch, including the first phase of Hunter’s Point South, a 5,000-unit multiphase project in Long Island City which when complete will be the largest affordable housing project built since Co-op City was completed more than 4 decades ago. During his term the agency also launched the adAPT micro-unit competition, a pilot program launched in July 2012 to develop a new, innovative model of housing to accommodate the city’s growing population of one- and two-person households.
Prior to assuming the helm at HPD, Mr. Wambua served as Executive Vice President of Real Estate and External Affairs for the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Wambua also held positions as senior policy advisor for New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff, vice president for special projects at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and senior investment officer for General Electric Capital Commercial Real Estate. Mr. Wambua earned a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has taught real estate finance at NYU’s Graduate School of Public Service and managerial economics at the New School’s Graduate School of Public Policy. Mr. Wambua lives in the Bronx with his wife and two children.
Prior to joining HPD, RuthAnne Visnauskas was the Director of Housing for Clinton Housing Development Company. She received a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Urban Planning from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Ms. Visnauskas lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.
# # #
About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):
HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the end of fiscal year 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 157,320 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For regular updates on news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/nychpd and www.twitter.com/nychousing. For more information, visit our website at www.nyc.gov/hpd.